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Social Media Campaigns Should be “Social”

Filed under: Public Relations — Kelsey Kula at 1:19 pm on Saturday, September 22, 2012

When my class was assigned to write about a social media blunder I thought that these would be hard to find since a group of people usually operate the company’s social media websites. I figured with a group of people working on a promotion, it would be hard to mess up or have a campaign that failed. Once I researched the topic many companies came up with their stories.

One that stood out to me and I found interesting was a campaign on Facebook in 2009 for a free Burger King Whopper. The title was Whopper Sacrifice and the application on Facebook encouraged users to “unfriend” 10 people and they would get a coupon for a free whopper. Also once the user deleted those 10 friends, Burger King let each of those former friends know in a humorous way that their friend “unfriended” them for a free hamburger.

Facebook shut down this application for two reasons.

1. It encouraged users to connect with fewer people on Facebook when Facebook in all about bring more people together and connecting them. Social media is supposed to be “social” and this application was doing the opposite of that.

2. Facebook does not send friend removal notifications. It violates their privacy policy and this was the main reason Facebook wanted Burger King to fix their application.

This application had nothing to do with the company itself. It could have taken the more positive approach and had users add 10 friends for a coupon. This would not violate Facebook’s privacy policies and would connect more people together.

In the end the Whopper Sacrifice had been sacrificed. Burger King did not want to make the necessary changes to their application that Facebook wanted them to so they terminated the campaign all together. Facebookers were not turned away from this campaign though. Nearly 234,000 Facebookers were defriended and Burger King gave away more than 23,000 coupons for a free whopper.



7 thoughts on “Social Media Campaigns Should be “Social”



    September 24, 2012 @ 6:55 pm   

    It is insane and slightly scary that anyone at Burger King thought this campaign was a good idea. The promotion anti-social, somewhat spiteful behavior for the sake of consumption does not exactly ring marketing gold, even if it was done in a humorous, tactful way. Just put yourself in a deleted person’s shoes. Sure, if it was a close friend that had un-friended you, the act in itself would not be so bad. But if I was on the BK team behind this, the chance that one person may take being un-friended the wrong way would be enough to pull the plug on this one. What’s even scarier is that so many people went along with it.


       Asia Rapai

    September 25, 2012 @ 9:15 pm   

    As we’ve seen from Burger King’s failed commercials with that creepy king costume, its marketing team might be having fun but they don’t always seem to understand what the general market wants. This does not speak to the objective of building a community through social media, as PR usually seems to attempt. Maybe Burger King was going for a different approach and thought this would just make them stand out on social media, since so many other companies push the feel-good community approach.

    It’s interesting that Facebook had to come in and shut it down before Burger King even realized that hurting people’s feelings and disconnecting them might not make the best marketing effort. It did get a big response with nearly 234,000 Facebookers defriending as you mentioned. It would be interesting to see how this number of interactions compares to its other social media marketing efforts.


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